In some ways, we were ahead of the political parties. We were not going to be happy with what Marxists call a change in the ‘superstructure’. We had gone through that in 1990. There were other changes that we were looking for. Some of these coincided with the Maoist agenda – and that’s what made us Maoists in the eyes of some of our detractors. As the movement grew and as our work with the Maoists and the Seven-Party Alliance proceeded, we stood for more than just a republican state, which we had not been for in the beginning in any case.
Restructuring the state was very much part of our agenda. We hadn’t called it federalism yet, but rather the end of the unitary system. The problem was that power was centralised in the palace and in Kathmandu. We used to talk about inclusive state and sometimes inclusive democracy. We wanted to see the end of one particular pahadi [hill] caste group that had been running the show for centuries – the end of exploitation, as the Maoists would call it – and to see equality and justice. That is the ‘New Nepal’ we imagined.
But, later on, New Nepal just became an empty slogan. The restoration of the parliament in April 2006 was the watershed. From that point on, the parties rose and the New Nepal agenda went down. The Seven-Party Alliance got the reinstatement of parliament it wanted. For many of its leaders, this was mission accomplished. The war had ended. Gyanendra had sidelined himself. We were in a jam.
In our next meeting, we asked what would happen to the Constituent Assembly. What if it is not formed? What happens to the restructuring of the state? What if it is the 1990 Constitution all over again? The Maoists would not be able to do anything. Having come this far, they could not have gone back. That was the main issue, personally for me and for many of our friends in the group. We issued a statement the next day that our movement was to go on until the Constituent Assembly took place and a new constitution was framed. Only then would we wither away. From that point on, we were labelled Maoist sympathisers. Slowly, the political actors began moving away from us, especially when prominent citizens rose against us and began writing articles calling us Maoists and so on.